Raise your family saint smarts with a daily litany of saints.
by Heidi Indahl
When my husband was in graduate school working on his doctorate, we began regularly eating breakfast together, as his schedule was more flexible during that time of day. During Lent one year, our oldest son suggested that we pray a morning offering together before the mealtime blessing. My husband typed up the prayer, mounted it on construction paper, and laminated enough copies for each of us to have one. Over the years, we have continued the habit of eating breakfast together in the morning and praying the morning offering each day.
As time has gone on, we have added additional prayers, including the Hail Mary and a short kid-led litany of saints. For our litany of saints, after we have prayed the Hail Mary we go in a circle around the table, with each family member providing the name of a saint; we all respond, “Pray for us!”
Praying this mini-litany has given me a sneak peak into what my kids know about various saints, revealed a few previously unknown devotions, and allowed us to introduce new saints. My husband and I will often choose saints based on a particular feast day, or because a particular saint might be unknown to our kids. (If you are looking for daily saint ideas, be sure to check out The Bread!) The first moments of breakfast conversation often revolve around questions about a particular saint.
There have been many times when accidental themes occurred. For example, one day everyone added their name saint to the litany. Another day, the entire litany was comprised of various titles of Our Blessed Mother. We didn’t talk about this in advance; it just happened when some of the younger children started it and the older children continued the pattern. The same thing happens with known saint pairs such as Anne and Joachim, Felicity and Perpetua, or Cosmos and Damien.
Our youngest son is Tomas, and it is not unusual to have a litany that is comprised of many St. Thomases, as each child tries to out-saint the next.
They think they are being funny.
I am learning just how much they know.
As the morning offering became a regular piece of our family’s daily prayers, the litany has become important and our children have taken ownership of it as their own. After several months of the morning litany, our five-year-old asked to have a litany added to his bedtime prayers with Daddy. When our seven-year-old heard this news she was actually jealous about it and wanted the litany added to her prayers too. Now, even the three-year-old has jumped on the evening litany bandwagon!